Deaf Australia supports the joint statement prepared by the National Ethnics with Disability Alliance (NEDA) on the Detention of People with Disabilities.
You can read the joint statement here: http://www.neda.org.au/index.php/latest/184-joint-statement
Deaf Australia appreciates the collaboration with NEDA to ensure the statement includes the rights to effective communication to diverse language and communication supports, including sign language, in official interactions for refugees to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis as others through all forms of communication of their choice.
The joint statement calls for legislative change to end the detention of all people with disabilities and their families, following the release of the Australian Human Rights Commissioner’s National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.
As at July 2014, there were 28 children in detention who were assessed with disabilities. These children had spent 11 months in detention on average and were aged between two and 17 years old.
One of these children is deaf. This child’s parents are also deaf and they use sign language to communicate. During the detention, it appears that sign language interpreters have not been engaged by the Australian Government to communicate with the child or the family. Deaf Australia believes this breaches a basic human right – the right to access effective communication, including the use of sign language.
Without access to effective communication support, the detention places this family and their child at increased risk and more vulnerable to the dangers posed in the detention environment.
Deaf Australia is calling for the Australian Federal Government to ensure that deaf families (including deaf children) who use sign language are given access to sign language interpreters so that they can access information and support in their own language and have the same access to facilities, services, and immigration information and processes as other detainees.
Furthermore, Deaf Australia is requesting the Australian Federal Government to move any and all deaf families and detainees to community detention while their cases are being reviewed, to ensure their safety and reduce the extra risk that being deaf in a detention centre poses to these families.
From 1 July 2015, Deaf Australia will become an unfunded national peak organisation representing deaf and hard of hearing people. It is important that Deaf Australia remains in a position to actively provide specialist advice and advocacy services; otherwise the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people will remain unaddressed.